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How to Build Homes by Wetlands

Wetlands are nature's filtration system. It's a piece of land where the soil is heavily sodden with water. Home to plants and wildlife that can't live in any other condition, wetlands serve as a unique ecosystem to itself and its inhabitants. Because of it's importance in the cycle of nature and as a habitat, draining wetlands and building on them is heavily restricted, as is building near them.

Planning a Build Near Wetlands

Everglades National Park in Florida. The Everglades is the U.S.' largest wetlands area. Photo by Rachel Asher.
  1. Gather maps and information on the local, state, and federal level regarding your property. Wetlands are designated by all three of these geographic and political levels, so be sure that the boundaries of wetlands on or near your property are clear before you plan a build.

  2. Check with the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and your local environmental organization to determine the precise laws restricting building near wetlands. Laws vary throughout the United States, so be clear on those that apply to your land before you build.

  3. Find out if your land was farmed in the past. Land that has been farmed could be converted wetlands, and there are federal regulations regarding building on converted wetlands.

  4. Prepare a plan, using to-scale drawings, a description of your property and construction techniques, photographs of the property, and a construction timetable. This plan will be submitted to your local environmental organization for approval, along with an application fee.

  5. Schedule a pre-application conference with the Corps and your local environmental organization before submitting your planning application. They can review your application to be certain that your plan and the nearby wetlands are free of conflict.